27

Tamara Obrovac: Ulika Revival

Bruce Lindsay By

Sign in to view read count
Tamara Obrovac: Ulika Revival In 1998 singer and songwriter Tamara Obrovac, from Istria in Croatia, released Ulika (CBS), an album dedicated to her grandmother. Ulika Revival revisits a dozen songs from that album, presenting new renditions informed by the 15 or 16 years that lie between the two releases. The revival is a great success, a masterly collection of strikingly affecting songs.

In a global marketplace dominated by one or two languages it's refreshing to hear a singer who remains faithful to her own upbringing and to the beauty of its musical heritage. Obrovac sings in an Istrian dialect, with a style that draws on Istrian folk heritage as well as on contemporary jazz: the result is a powerfully emotive vocal that draws the listener in to the moods and images of the songs whether or not they share Obrovac's understanding of the words (helpfully, an English translation is provided in the liner notes).

Obrovac is a talented and expressive singer—a multi-award winning performer. The instrumentalists are every bit her equal: in his liner notes Josef Engels compares them to the Bill Evans Trio, a claim that's by no means far-fetched. Pianist Matija Dedić, bassist Ziga Golob and drummer Krunoslav Levacic all appeared on Ulika: a decade and a half later they bring their added experience to bear on these songs once more. Golob's arco bass is especially expressive on the slower songs, his pizzicato playing gives real swing to the more up-tempo numbers. Pianist Dedić comps with great style, complementing Obrovac's voice. His percussive chordal playing on "Zakantaj," (Sing) for example, is powerful but never intrusive or overwhelming: his single note runs on "Divojka" sparkle. Levačić drums with invention, given freedom by Golob's rock-solid bass foundation.

Some of the songs on Ulika Revival celebrate the simple pleasures of life. On "Tanac" (Dance) she sings of a girl who wants to dance and go to the fair. "Vinova Loza" (The Vine) is a paean to wine and the labor that goes into its creation. The little song, "Cansoneita," is a joyous celebration of falling in love. Even the wordless "Prez Besid 1" and "Prez Besid 2" seem filled with the joy of singing.

There's a darkness alongside this light. Milan Rakovac's lyrics to the bluesy "Črno Zlo" (Dark Evil) are as pessimistic and downbeat as the title suggests. On "Joh" (Dear Me) Obrovac sings "Dear me, a different time will come. Dear me, I think that maybe I'll go to Hell." Strikingly, although these lyrics may be dark and despairing, the quartet's performances emphasise the artistry of the songs and in doing so they give them an air of hopefulness. "Ulika" tells of the death of Obrovac's great-grandfather, Ulika's father, in World War 1—it's a story told with sincerity and love, a very personal song to close this beautiful album.


Track Listing: Prez Besid 1; Cansoneita; Tanac; Vinova Loza; Joh; Šenica; Črno Zlo; Ojnana; Zakantaj; Divojka; Prez Besid 2; Ulika.

Personnel: Tamara Obrovac: vocals, flute (4); Matija Dedić: piano; Žiga Golob: double bass; Krunoslav Levačić: drums.

Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Unit Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Related Video

Shop

More Articles

Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by Mark F. Turner
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Before The Silence CD/LP/Track Review Before The Silence
by John Sharpe
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Process And Reality CD/LP/Track Review Process And Reality
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1 CD/LP/Track Review Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 24, 2017
Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read "The Soul Jazz Beat Vol. 2" CD/LP/Track Review The Soul Jazz Beat Vol. 2
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: July 20, 2016
Read "Music From Max Fleischer Cartoons" CD/LP/Track Review Music From Max Fleischer Cartoons
by Mark Corroto
Published: March 14, 2016
Read "Triple Exposure" CD/LP/Track Review Triple Exposure
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: November 30, 2016
Read "Choice" CD/LP/Track Review Choice
by Dave Wayne
Published: October 7, 2016
Read "For The Unknown" CD/LP/Track Review For The Unknown
by Mark Sullivan
Published: April 19, 2016
Read "Simians Of Swing" CD/LP/Track Review Simians Of Swing
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: March 24, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!